Skip to Content

Doctoral Program

The Ph.D. program requires competent understanding of one of the systematic fields of geography and a broad understanding of geographic topics that enables the student to address and synthesize problems that cross the various fields of geography. While this program is designed to suit each individual’s background and interests, prospective candidates should pay particular attention to the systematic specialization and regional interests of the department’s faculty members before applying for admission.

The candidate may use the flexibility of Research (GEOG 601) and Reading and Conference (GEOG 605) to follow specific interests with individual members of the faculty. The Ph.D. program, planned with faculty committee approval, is measured by achievement of the stated goals rather than by any specific number of credits.

Requirements for the PhD

Students must complete at least three years of full-time enrollment (81 credits) beyond a Bachelor’s degree. This includes eighteen hours of dissertation credits (GEOG 603) after advancing to candidacy.

Breadth Requirements

Completion of a master’s degree in geography or equivalent study that includes courses required for the M.A. or M.S. degree in geography at the University of Oregon. Ph.D. students are required to take both qualitative methods (GEOG 515 or approved equivalent) and quantitative methods (GEOG 517 or approved equivalent).

Graduate Seminar Requirement

Completion of at least two graduate geography seminars (GEOG 507 or 607) from different faculty members, after admission to the doctoral program.

Research Workshop Requirement

In the Fall and Spring quarters students must register for GEOG 608. This is a one-hour workshop meeting where students discuss their research and receive feedback from other students and invited faculty.

Foreign Language Requirement

Completion of a foreign language for the Master’s degree AND

Choose one of the following

  • Advanced foreign language skills (equivalent of a third year of language)
  • Second year proficiency in a second foreign language
  • Computer programming skills at level required for the Master’s degree (if not already used for first language requirement)
  • Completion of a skills package to be decided with dissertation committee. This is generally four or five courses that cover a body of related methods. See the Geography Graduate Handbook for details and examples.

Comprehensive Exams

Courses and outside readings should be used to prepare for the doctoral student’s comprehensive exams. The format consists of students working with their advisors and committee to prepare questions that the committee will then chose for the student to answer. Students will have six weeks to write their answers.

Progress Meetings

Doctoral students should select an advisor and two committee members from Geography to serve on their thesis committee and one member from outside the department with whom the student has worked with in some capacity (through courses or other projects). This committee will meet with the student in the Spring of their first year and in the Winter term of their second to evaluate course progress and research issues.

Proposal Requirement

A proposal must be approved by the committee prior to the research project. This proposal must address the following elements: the research question or questions, how these questions are related to previous published literature, the significance of the questions, and a methodology appropriate to the research problem. The committee may require revisions before accepting the proposal. In lieu of a proposal, a grant application equivalent to the NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement grant or a published article may be accepted.

Dissertation Requirement

A dissertation presents the results of a substantive and original project addressing a significant geographic problem. There are two options for the form of the dissertation; a monograph or a series of articles. The dissertation must be presented and defended at a public meeting in the department and approve by the dissertation committee.

More details on all of these procedures can be found in the Geography Graduate Handbook for 2020-2021